The Social Dilemma Review 

Netflix Documentary looks at social media’s impact on society


Exposure Labs / Netflix / TNS

Skylar Gisondo appears in the documentary “The Social Dilemma,” which looks at the impact social media has had on society.

Hailey Griffin , Arts Editor

Since the dawn of the digital age, people have expressed both praise and concern about technological advancements. Some worry whether technology will eventually pose a threat to society.  

But what many don’t realize is that it already has.  

Netflix’s documentary drama, “The Social Dilemma,” explores the existential crisis that algorithmspersuasive technology, the attention economy, and surveillance capitalism have created through social media platforms.  

Essentially, it demonstrates the negative effects that these elements paired with social media have caused across the globe. Unless technologists acknowledge the need to reform the aspects that have caused this existential crisis, then these negative effects will persist.  

The film provides input from several people who work in the tech industry but focuses mainly on Tristan Harris, former design ethicist for Google and founder of Center for Humane Technology. The way that Harris and others discuss social media really makes you think about the larger role that it plays in a democracy.  

At the same time, while you experience this thought process, you experience an eerie sense of realization that you, too, have been affected by the negative effects that the film speaks about.  

Most of us don’t realize how ingrained technology and social media has become in our everyday lives. But when Harris and other tech professionals present such profound evidence, it becomes a bit clearer as to why that might be the case. 

The profound evidence and the realizations that coincide with “The Social Dilemma” are not the only things that make it unforgettable. The production and visual quality, too, are quite impressive.  

The film switches back and forth between interviews with those who have first-hand experience in the tech industry, a dramatized depiction of how social media and technological addiction affect a teenager’s life, and several animations 

The collaboration of all these visual aspects was well done. The animations wercreative, and they created an atmosphere that drew you in but also reminded about the impact of the subject at hand. The dramatized depiction was a nice touch, too. It provides you with a realistic visual of the effects that younger generations face at the hands of social media.  

Out of the tech professionals that were interviewed, almost everyone agreed that social media’s attention economy business model, which employs surveillance capitalism, algorithms, and persuasive technology, had to be reconstructed. With the evidence that this documentary-drama has provided me, I would have to agree.  

Overall, “The Social Dilemma” is quite extraordinary. If you want to gain some insight into just how much social media and technological advancements have affected societywould highly recommend.